Friday, April 18, 2008

The Art of Giving Flowers

Everyone loves giving and receiving lovely blossoms. However, we can sometimes be stumped about when it’s appropriate to send flowers, how much to spend, and which ones to buy.

In the nineteenth century, the giving of flowers was a specialized art. Floriography, or the language of flowers, was developed as a way of expressing feelings by coded messages. Each flower was assigned a certain meaning. For example, a person might send Canterbury bells to signal gratitude or purple lilacs to communicate the first blush of love.

Somewhere along the way, the language of flowers fell into disuse, though some of its associations remain with us today. For example, we all know that red roses are a symbol of romantic love, and white lilies are still associated with purity.

Now that the art of making Tussy-Mussies, a type of Victorian bouquet, is coming back into favor, some people are studying floriography once again. For a charming gift, examine one of the many lists of flower meanings that you can find via your web search engine, and select a few blossoms to convey a special message. Since your recipient may or may not be familiar with the language of flowers, enclose a card explaining why you chose these particular stems.

Another creative method for sending flowers is to honor the person’s birth month. Each month in the calendar year has a certain flower associated with it. For example, January’s flowers are carnations or snowdrops. May’s flower is lily-of-the-valley. November’s flower is chrysanthemum. A birthday bouquet of the appropriate flower is a lovely way to celebrate someone’s birthday.

It’s not necessary to spend a lot to brighten someone’s life with flowers. One beautiful rose or a bunch of cheerful daisies can say as much as the most expensive bouquets. If you live near a place that has striking wildflowers, pick some and arrange them yourself in an interesting container. With flowers, it truly is the thought that counts.

An inexpensive, small potted plant is a great way to thank a hostess, welcome someone to the neighborhood, express sympathy, brighten up someone’s sick room, or simply bring a little cheer to someone’s day. If you are gifted at growing certain flowers, such as Christmas cactus, you might even pot slips from your own plants in attractive containers and give those as gifts.

Potted plants also allow a woman to give a botanical gift to a man in a way that he is more likely to appreciate. Though there are exceptions to every rule, women are generally more enthusiastic about receiving cut flowers or bouquets than men are. Men, however, might appreciate receiving a pot of greenery upon moving into a new apartment, receiving a promotion, upon bereavement, or for some special occasion. It's probably not a good idea to send a plant or flowers to a man at work, as that may set him up for some kidding from his co-workers. It's better to give him the plant in person or have it delivered to the home.

If you are giving a corsage for Mother’s Day, the traditional rule is that you choose a red flower if your mother’s mother is still alive. A white flower indicates that a mother’s own mother has passed away. While you are not limited to giving these colors only, it’s good to understand the rule so that you don’t inadvertently send the wrong message.

Flowers are expected on certain occasions, such as roses on Valentine’s Day or poinsettias at Christmas. However, the ones that people enjoy the most are those given for no other reason than to say, “I’m thinking about you.”

If you have room in your yard, you may want to experiment with a cutting garden. This differs from an ornamental garden, which is enjoyed for its outdoor beauty. Instead, the cutting garden is planted specifically for the purpose of cutting fresh flowers for the house or giving them as gifts. Remember, since you will be harvesting the flowers often, the garden itself may not look as pretty as beds that are left to flower throughout the seasons. Most people locate their cutting beds in the backyard or a corner space, rather than in a spot where you want to see continual color. Wherever you locate your cutting garden, it can yield a rich bounty of flower gifts.

As to when it's appropriate to give flowers, there's hardly any occasion when they're not welcome, particularly for women. Be sure, though, to think in term of the person who will be receiving them. If he or she are highly allergic, potted greenery might be better than flowers or flowering plants. Also, in some ICU units of hospitals, flowers are not allowed.

If you have sons, you may want to help them when it comes to giving flowers. Again, this is a generalization, but we women usually grow up knowing about and being comfortable with flowers. Young boys might need a little support when it comes to making a gift of flowers, particularly if they are presenting a corsage to a young lady for the first time. Also, your sons will benefit from knowing that their grandmothers, mothers, and sisters will also enjoy an occasional gift of flowers.




Anonymous said...

I, of course, always love to receive flowers -- and I'm glad to see you back!

Elizabeth said...

Hi topaztook!

Thanks for commenting. Don't we all love flowers!